Street Smart Chicago

411: Free Choice at the Bathroom Door

City Life, News etc., Pride No Comments »

When confronted with a stick figure wearing trousers next to one adorned with a triangular dress on the journey to a public restroom, most Chicagoans can confidently choose. Transgenders, however, are oftentimes afflicted with this decision. The distress does not stem from a gender identity crisis for the apprehensive bathroom user; it is trepidation of hostile intolerance. “Gender-nonconforming people are harassed in public bathrooms every day,” explains Malic White, project organizer of the T-Friendly Bathroom Initiative. White has created a plan of action for the project pioneered by Kathryn Sosin, co-founder of Genderqueer Chicago. “Nearly every gender-variant friend I have has faced this issue, no matter which bathroom they use,” explains Sosin. “I started to think about how absurd it was that we were preventing people from using bathrooms just because of their perceived gender, and I wanted to create something very simple to educate our businesses and community members.” The T-Friendly Bathroom Initiative asks more than 500 Chicago establishments to sign a pledge. In doing so, the businesses and organizations declare that individuals may use the gender-specific bathroom based on their own gender-identity. Furthermore, the establishment agrees to educate their staff on gender-variant sensitivity and interrupt any witnessed intolerance concerning the matter. Those who sign the pledge will receive a “T-Friendly” decal assuring the community their premises are a safe and welcoming environment for Chicago transgenders. (Tiana Olewnick)

On Target: Citizens unite to boycott a retailer’s donation to an anti-gay candidate

Politics, Pride No Comments »

Gay rights activists convened at Target stores across the country Saturday to protest the corporation’s recent donation to conservative—and notoriously anti-gay—Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. In Chicago, 16-year-old New Trier student Zachary Fraum teamed up with Gay Liberation Network organizers Andy Thayer and Rick Heintz to get local voices in on the national day of protest.

Despite the modest turnout—around forty, according to Thayer—the crowd that’s gathered outside the new Wilson Yard location Saturday morning is in high spirits. A good number of people are lining the curb with full-sized rainbow flags. Others mill around with posters. Motorists are regularly honking with enthusiastic support. The weather is nice; someone’s making water runs to the nearby Aldi. After about forty-five minutes of chatting and informal chanting—“Taste the rainbow, Target! The gay dollar is powerful!” protest wit Mark Schmieding shouts into the street—Thayer rallies the troops. “We’re gonna do a picket line now, and then… we’re gonna have cake!” he says, leading the group in a circle near the store’s entrance. The chants vary, from the classic “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!” to the punning “Don’t shop at Target! We will not be targets!” Eventually, hunger and hoarseness intervene, and Heintz cuts the cake. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hunt For Equality: LGBTQ advocates protest a suburban bar

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DSC_1038The cars pull up one by one into the desolate suburban parking lot of Hunter’s Nightclub in Elk Grove Village. Transgender activists and people of all gender identifications dressed in varying degrees of drag step out of the vehicles and start organizing. Behind them, a trans flag hangs from the roof of a station wagon. The protesters excitedly look over talking points, pass around a petition and take a moment to hug and catch up. “You’ve got a beard, look at you!” someone in the crowd shouts. “We should give out genderfucked cards,” says another. The party is hastily broken up, however, when the bar’s manager arrives on the scene, accompanied by a bouncer. Asked if the group could enter the bar rather than be kicked out, the manager replies, “If you’ve got IDs.”

Hunter’s, one of the best-known gay bars in the northwest suburbs, has served Chicago’s LGBT community for twenty-seven years. A couple of months ago, Hunter’s instituted a policy that requires patrons to show IDs that match their “gender presentation.” Read the rest of this entry »

Worldwide Pants-less: Skybar hosts a trouser-banned party

Events, Lincoln Park, Love & Sex, Pride No Comments »

GoddesShe-01-bigThe time-honored tradition of The Fourth Annual “No Pants Party” makes Lincoln Park’s Skybar transform into a girls-for-girls paradise. From the sidewalk looking up to the second-floor window, two very scantily clad young ladies—with no more than pink lingerie and white fluffy boots—shake what their mammas gave them and hope their fathers aren’t aware of it.

A skinny, mustachioed hipster in maroon boxer shorts and suspenders dances to the muffled beats from inside the bar next to the uncomfortable valet attendants. Sunday at Skybar is designated Gay Night, and tonight is no different. Chicago’s strong and vibrant lesbian community is out in full force making the best of their last few hours of the weekend before returning to the Monday morning grind. The place looks like a normal party with loud house music and strobe lights until the adorable—and unfortunately unattainable—waitress, wearing American Apparel briefs, strolls over. She’s holding trays of fluorescent shooters, claiming they have the elixir for a time you’re sure to forget in the morning, only to remember as your head falls below the rim of the toilet upon crawling out of bed. Of course she didn’t actually say that, but we all know the result of glow-in-the-dark booze.           Read the rest of this entry »

Pride 2009: Gay Marriage Now

City Life, News etc., Politics, Pride No Comments »

newcitycover1For those of us of a certain age, the story of our lifetime has been the civil rights movement and the infusion of its fundamental ideal, one drawn from the very words used to call this nation into existence—”that all men are created equal”—beyond racial equality and into every segment of our culture, whether it be the rights of the disabled or the perpetual struggle to turn a patriarchal society into one of equal opportunity regardless of gender. And so, we turn to what may be the final obstacle that keeps us from turning that noble concept voiced 233 years ago from principle into reality.

Those of you who follow Newcity know that we may be liberal in other ways, but not with the practice of endorsement. But just as we believed the election of Barack Obama as president transcended all other issues last November, so too do we believe that this issue, the equal rights of all persons, transcends all other issues.

This is the moment. Nations around the world are moving forward with marriage equality; so too are states around this nation. While Illinois cannot be first, it can still make its influence, and so too Chicago, since neither New York City nor Los Angeles are situated in states where gay couples may marry. This is the moment to enact equal marriage rights in Illinois and we call upon our elected leaders to pass the necessary legislation with appropriate haste so that our state might resume its place as a portent of progess, as manifest by our favorite sons Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, rather than the crest of corruption that the same fingers of progress seem too often predisposed to favor inside the voting booth. We’ll defer to others to lead the way on tactics, but ask all of you to make your voices heard. For as the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox once wrote, “To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.” Read the rest of this entry »

Pride Events

City Life, Events, News etc., Politics, Pride No Comments »

Parties, parades, workshops, readings and more—we got it all Read the rest of this entry »

House Call

News etc., Pride No Comments »

Here’s a list of Illinois state representatives in the Chicago area, their contact numbers and office addresses. Read the rest of this entry »

411: Paradise Found

Events, Pride No Comments »

While it may be just past prom season for most high-schoolers, Girlie-Q Productions is hosting the adult answer to all your taffeta yearnings and cray-paper dreams—“Almost Paradise, a Very Queer Prom, ” an event dedicated to the “titlating entertainment” that used to be reserved for the back-seat of cars. Read the rest of this entry »

Pride 2008: Out Intersection, Filmmaker Ron Pajak shines a light on history

Chicago History, Pride No Comments »

By Elise Biggers
After accommodating more than 400, 000 people last summer, some speculate this week’s Pride Parade may very well top the half-million milestone. Given Chicago’s turbulent LGBT history that had, within the last eighty years, witnessed the transformation of lightly attended, sidewalk-confined Pride demonstrations into a highly acclaimed yearly celebration, a rich oral tradition had been awaiting documentation up until its translation onto film in 2007. Since filmmaker and Columbia College instructor Ron Pajak’s screening of his documentary “Quearborn & Perversion” last November, Chicago’s LGBT community has connected to stories that have seldom been told by earlier generations—stories that reveal the little-known history of the Chicago’s LGBT cultural identity that began just north of the river not too long ago.
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Pride 2008: Book of Record, Tracy Baim and the new “Out and Proud in Chicago”

Chicago History, Lit, Pride No Comments »

By Jeremy Gordon

Chicago’s gay community stays pretty busy in the month of June, but Tracy Baim, a born-and-raised Chicagoan and executive editor of the Windy City Times and “Out and Proud in Chicago, ” an upcoming book that delves into the history of Chicago’s gay community, isn’t just looking forward like everyone at the parade, but back through time.
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